Key construction milestones met for MV Loch Indaal and first of two Little Minch ferries

Automated robotic arm

TWO more key milestones have been successfully met in the construction of four CMAL vessels at Cemre shipyard in Turkey yesterday.

The first saw the keel laying for the newly named MV Loch Indaal, the sister ship of MV Isle of Islay, which will both serve Islay and Jura. The second marked the steel cutting of the as-yet-unnamed Little Minch vessel one.

Islay vessels

The names of the two vessels were officially chosen last week through a public vote and are now known as MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal. In October 2022, the first steel was cut for the MV Isle of Islay, and in January of this year, the keel was laid for the vessel, while the steel was cut for MV Loch Indaal. 

Construction is progressing well at the yard, with delivery of MV Isle of Islay expected in October 2024, with MV Loch Indaal expected in February 2025.

The new vessels will bring an almost 40% increase vehicle and freight capacity on the Islay routes, a reduction in emissions and improve the resilience of the wider fleet.

Little Minch vessels

The new 94.8-metre vehicle passenger ferries will be designed and built to the same specification as the two new vessels for Islay, but with raised aft mooring decks to accommodate the higher pier heights at Lochmaddy, Uig and Tarbert.

The vessels will each have a capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars or 14 commercial vehicles—increasing vehicle and freight capacity on the Little Minch routes and improving the overall resilience of the wider fleet.

The public will be asked to vote on the names for these two vessels next year and are expected to be delivered in June and October 2025.

This, paired with the delivery of the dual fuel vessels currently being constructed at Ferguson Marine shipyard on the Clyde will see six new vessels joining the Scottish ferry network by the end of 2025.

Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart said:

“I welcome both of these important milestones, as they move us closer to having these new vessels join the fleet to bring welcome additional capacity, reliability and resilience for our island communities.

“We have committed to adding six new major vessels to the fleet by 2026, and I want to continue to see good progress on bringing them into service.

“The Scottish Government shares the desires of island communities for sustainable and effective ferry services and look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with them on future services and vessel replacements.”

Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at CMAL, added:

“Work at Cemre shipyard is progressing well, with the ferries being constructed on time and on budget. These key milestones fill us with confidence that we will see all four vessels out on the network by the end of 2025.

“Keel laying for MV Loch Indaal is a significant milestone in the ship’s life with the first of the many units which will be fabricated and erected during the construction of the vessel. Simultaneously, the steel cutting for the first of the Little Minch vessels marking another milestone with the start of the construction of the vessel.

“The new ferries have been designed with carbon reduction in mind and are expected to deliver significant reductions in emissions.”

The £91 million contract to build the two Islay ferries was awarded to Cemre Marin Endustri in Turkey in March 2022 following a competitive tender.

In October 2022, The Scottish Government prioritised an additional £115m in funding to enable CMAL to accelerate the replacement of the major vessel fleet and provide a more standardised vessel type that can be used on a variety of different routes.

The four vessels form part of a programme of investment by CMAL, funded through Scottish Government commitments to capital investment of around £700 million in ferry infrastructure and related services over the five years from 2021 to 2026.  Wider plans will deliver other new small and major vessels for the fleet and upgrades of harbour infrastructure with future options and being considered through the emerging Islands Connectivity Plan.

The latest stories